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Private equity fund invests in Park Cafe chain

A regional private equity fund has acquired a minority stake in local food and beverage company Park Cafe, sinking upwards of $1 million into the company, which operates seven food outlets in Phnom Penh, its fund manager said yesterday.

The Cambodia-Laos Development Fund (CLDF), a Luxembourg-registered fund that invests in SMEs in Cambodia and Laos, will use its investment in Park Cafe to guide and support the brand’s local expansion.

“We are a growth equity fund, so the aim is primarily to expand the Park Cafe network and build out some central facilities and services in support of aggressive growth,” said Trent Eddy, director of Emerging Markets Investments Pte Ltd (EMI), the investment firm that manages CLDF.

Park Cafe started in 2004 and opened its seventh branch last year. The company intends to add four more branches this year, and aims to have 34 nationwide by 2020.

Eddy said CLDF’s partnership with Park Cafe began with a loan a few years back. He said he was impressed with the company’s well-governed and managed business, and its international standards.

“It has a strong brand and quality product offering that serves well-identified target segments, all of which we feel offer very good prospects for profitable growth and expansion,” he said.

The $20-million CLDF currently manages seven investments, including five companies in Cambodia and two in Laos. The fund runs until the end of 2018.

Kuy Vat, chairman of VTrust Property Group, the parent company of Park Cafe, has expressed interest in listing the group on the Cambodian stock exchange, a move that would give CLDF an exit option.

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